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The importance of onboarding part Two

 Onboarding programs are the first touch a new Employee makes with your Company. First impressions count, if a new Employee encounters confusion and chaos during their first week on the job, they probably won’t form the most favourable opinion of you and your Company. 

 The statistics cannot be argued with:

  • 91% of employees stay for at least a year when Companies have efficient onboarding processes
  • 69% of them stick around for at least three years when companies have well-structured onboarding programs

To make a great impression and set new Employees up for success, you must be deliberate in creating a plan that ensures they'll be engrossed in the culture and their responsibilities in no time......

How much attention are you giving to your Company’s own onboarding program? Is it as effective as you want it to be? 

In last week’s Blog  I talked about the importance of a Company onboarding process to help in the challenges of employee retention. 

An onboarding process does not need to be complicated or take many weeks of preparation - here are a few examples of very successful Companies simple approaches to onboarding, they may inspire you to make some simple tweaks to your current process:

  1. Google’s has a “just in time” voluntary Line Manager approach to their onboarding process which is designed to get their new Employees up to speed 25% faster.

The HR team at Google send out a reminder email to the starters Line Manager the day before they commence employment.   These emails gently remind them to consider five tasks that Google’s data says are vitally important to the success of a new employee:

  • Discuss their role and responsibilities
  • Find a peer buddy to mentor them
  • Introduce your new hire to the rest of the team
  • Check in with your new hires once a month for the first six months
  • Encourage open dialogue

Google HR recognise that Managers are quite busy and if there is no sense of urgency, they often don’t see the value in reading the provided HR information.  Even if they do read it, and they might simply forget to implement the recommended actions when an onboarding occurs weeks or months later. 

The Google approach should serve as a reminder to those in HR that there are guiding principles or lessons that should be applied whenever they design new HR programs.

Some of those valuable lessons include:

  • Just-in-time alerts really work because rather than a mass mailing, only the managers who have a new hire receive it. And the Manager receives the information just at the moment when they realize they need to take immediate action - in Google’s case they receive the information on literally the day before the new hire starts. The message is sent precisely at the time when the Manager’s “sense of urgency” is at its highest.

  • Make a Manager’s action voluntary. In Googles example, the Line Managers isn’t forced to do anything, HR just reminds them that these five tasks have been proven to help new hires adjust to their new surroundings.  This lack of arm twisting or pressure is important because many Managers resist being told what to do. They want to own the process, so the subtlety of the message and the voluntary aspect can make them feel like they are in control.

  • Make the provided information short and simple. Google’s approach is effective because of the simplicity of the message that they send. Rather than sending a comprehensive manual, they provide all the required information that a manager needs in a single page email and in a scannable format. The Manager will likely be relieved when they realize that they won’t need to click on a link or read volumes before they can act.

  1. Netflix gives new hires tackle the opportunity to be involved in large projects right from day one. In a new Engineers case, he started working on Netflix for AppleTV. Four months after he started at Netflix, he saw his work being used by millions of customers, giving him a huge feeling of satisfaction and achievement whilst at the same time, allowing Netflix to see how he worked within their culture and processes.

Some other highlights from Netflix’s onboarding process:

  • Technology is set up when you arrive rather than having to wait days for a laptop or business card, it’s all waiting for you the minute you step into the office
  • A dedicated mentor is assigned to help each new hire
  • Netflix’s top executives, including CEO Reed Hastings, meet with all new hires

It’s very evident that Netflix cares about setting up its new employees for success on day one. 

  1. Zappos pay their Employees to leave if they don't like the job! In my blog In Pursuit of Perfection, I talked about the importance of hiring for cultural fit. The Management team at Zappos understand this perfectly. The online retailer, which is owned by Amazon, offers employees a five-week course that teaches them everything they need to know about company culture and values.

At the end of the course, employees are offered $2,000 to leave if they don’t think they’re the right fit. Believe it or not, only about 1% of new hires have historically taken the money. Amazon deemed this approach so effective that it adopted it on its own. Jeff Bezos and company pay employees $5,000 to resign.

How much attention are you paying to your company’s own onboarding program? Is it as effective as you want it to be?  If your program leaves something to be desired, you can take proactive steps to improve your approach to onboarding.

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Claire Donnelly

Written by Claire Donnelly

A Business Growth and HR Strategist helping medium size companies to Scale Up using proven systems. Claire is an MCIPD qualified Human Resource professional, with 25+ years’ experience working within various industries and 10 + years’ experience of HR practices throughout the Middle East. As a HR Generalist she has held a number of senior and Board level HR positions. She is experienced in working at both strategic and tactical levels.

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